Topic: Environment

Coral bleaching

Science Middle School

Ocean Warming is Forcing Coral Reefs to Adapt

Life Science Environment Ecosystems Human Impacts Oceans

Oceans around the world are seeing declines in healthy reefs. The changes are caused by many factors, including the increase in ocean temperatures due to global warming. This public radio story is about coral reefs that are endangered. But some corals are thriving despite the increase in ocean temperature.

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Engineering with mushrooms

Science Middle School

Engineering Design Turns Mushrooms into Foam

Life Science Environment Engineering Physical Science

In this story we hear from the head of Ecovative, a company that uses mycelium fibers from fungi to create useful and environmentally-friendly products. The audio story discusses the advantages of using mycelium fibers in place of plastics and foams, as well as the challenges faced by the inventors in trying to create useful products. The Engineering design process is described, as well as how scientists used this process to get to where they are today. Students will get to explore the properties of Ecovative’s products, and evaluate their usefulness. Listen to this story and think about the idea of technological trade-offs.

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Using grass for electricity

Science Middle School

Burning Grass for Alternative Electricity

Life Science Earth and Space Science Environment Ecosystems Physical Science

Energy experts are thinking about ways to replace coal that’s burned in American power stations. One alternative is to burn plants because they can produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions. This is called biomass power. This public radio story looks at a movement in the Midwest that uses millions of acres of grass for biomass power.

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Weathering and erosion

Science Middle School

Beach Erosion Threatens Infrastructure

Earth and Space Science Environment Geography Physical Science Ecosystems Human Impacts Oceans

What happens when human structures and nature come into conflict? Ocean Beach in San Francisco is naturally eroding, but the consequence of this shifting shoreline is that a sewage treatment plant is put in peril. Without intervention, raw sewage could be dumped into the ocean. A rock wall has temporarily stabilized the pipeline, but not without complications. Now other solutions are being considered, including construction of an artificial dune.

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Quieting the ocean

Science Middle School

Noises in the Ocean Threaten Marine Animals

Life Science Earth and Space Science Environment Ecosystems Human Impacts Oceans Sound

Oceans have become very loud because of humans. In this public radio story you'll hear some of the things that make the ocean so noisy. Scientists are worried all that noise is hurting marine life. They want to find ways to quiet down the ocean and study what the noise means for marine mammals.

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Ocean acidification

Science Middle School

Shellfish on your Dinner Plate Threatened by Ocean Acidification

Environment Ecosystems Oceans chemistry

The increasing acidity of the oceans could eventually affect your dinner plate. This public radio story begins in a factory where workers are shucking shellfish. It looks at a shellfish producer and how the company has had a hard time producing juvenile oysters or “seed” because of the increase of CO2 in the ocean. The story examines the impact of ocean acidification on the seafood we eat.

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Rare earth elements

Science Middle School


China Owns Most Rare Earth Elements Used in Electronics

Technology Environment Physical Science Geology Energy

Rare earth minerals are very important to today's electronics. Your iPod, laptop, and television use them. They make electronics light so they don't need much power. But the Chinese have a lock on the production of rare earth elements and this could become a problem for the US.

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Somethings in the water hole

Science Middle School


Microbes in the Water Hole

Life Science Environment Ecosystems Human Impacts Ecology

While popular swimming holes are commonly tested for bacteria, few are tested for protozoans. This audio story discusses the problem of protozoan-caused illnesses for swimmers in rivers, lakes and ponds. The story distinguishes between different types of microbes, and is an excellent introduction to classification of microorganisms and/or classification in general.

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Fracking and earthquakes

Science Middle School

Research Shows Fracking Causes Earthquakes

Earth and Space Science Environment Ecosystems Geology Energy Forces and Newton's Laws

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is the process of putting liquid into shale to remove natural gas. There's concern that waste water from fracking that is put back into the ground is causing earthquakes. This public radio story explores the relationship between fracking and earthquakes.

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Corals and climate change

Science Middle School

Corals and Climate Change

Life Science Environment Climate Change Weather and Climate Human Impacts Oceans

What makes up a coral? This audio story takes you to an underwater observatory where a scientist is studying coral reefs. The scientist has found that CO2 in the ocean is making the ocean warmer and dissolving the coral reef system. But the scientist also discusses how coral reefs can recover. Listen to this story to hear the factors that threaten coral reefs and how they can recover.

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Cloud seeding

Science Middle School

Cloud Seeding for Weather Modification

Earth and Space Science Environment Weather and Climate Physical Science Agriculture Energy

There is a debate over whether cloud seeding is an efficient way to produce more snow and rain in places where droughts are the worst. Opponents claim that the chemicals that are sprayed into the air to create more water are toxic and could cause health issues in the future. Others believe this is the only way to for some gas and electric companies to obtain more energy. Listen to learn about the other concerns at hand and if this the history of this process.

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Bee deaths and crop consequences

Science Middle School

Bee Deaths and Crop Consequences

Life Science Environment Ecosystems Reproduction

Over the past several years honeybee colonies have declined dramatically. There is no consensus over a single cause, and in fact, scientists point to multiple reasons for this problem. An important, yet often overlooked factor is basic land use decisions. Listen to learn about the importance of the symbiotic relationship between honeybees, flowers and humans, and what kids can do to help promote honeybees and other pollinators

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A delicious solution to our energy problem

Science Middle School

A Delicious Solution to Our Energy Problems

Earth and Space Science Environment Energy Electricity chemistry

A new source of energy is being developed by using Michigan's industrial food waste. Using existing technology for converting manure into electricity, these anaerobic digesters are doing their work on pudding packs and canned peaches, among other delicacies. Listen to learn how they are turning waste into electricity.

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Baltimore's dirty harbor

Current Event June 27, 2014

Baltimore’s Dirty Harbor Cleaned by Innovative Water Wheel

Environment Engineering

Tourists to Baltimore’s harbor say that it is “disgusting” because so much trash is floating in it. So one resident built a Water Wheel to efficiently clear the trash out of the water. It has been lauded as a much better method of cleaning of trash from water than by hand. Listen to this public radio story to learn more about this unique recycling effort.

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Science Middle School

Clearing Carbon From Our Air

Earth and Space Science Environment Climate Change Human Impacts Atmosphere

Carbon exists in all living things, including proteins, DNA, and fats. When living things exhale, the result is carbon dioxide. As our world develops, we produce more carbon dioxide with the burning of fossil fuels and the use of cars, trains, and planes. This gas is causing an imbalance in the atmosphere which affects the warming of the planet. Listen to hear how much carbon dioxide humans are responsible for and the effects of global warming.

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Salmon migration affeted by drought

Current Event April 1, 2014

Salmon Migration Affected by Drought

Life Science Earth and Space Science Environment

The severe drought in California has affected the usual salmon migration. Typically the fish swim 270 miles from fresh water in Northern California to the Pacific Ocean. But because of low water levels, California hatcheries are ensuring their migration by transporting them in climate-controlled trucks to the ocean.

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Predicting landslides

Current Event March 28, 2014

Predicting Landslides

Earth and Space Science Environment Geology

In Washington state the clean up effort is still underway after a large mud slide killed at least two dozen people. Landslides are hard to predict. Scientists can determine which hills are most vulnerable, but getting the information to people that could use is it difficult.

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Exxon valdez  25 years later

Current Event March 26, 2014

Exxon Valdez, 25 Years Later

Earth and Space Science Environment

The Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 caused extreme environmental damage as well as long-lasting impact on the Alaskan farmer community. What are the lessons learned from the spill?

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Drought increases coffee bean prices

Current Event March 24, 2014

Drought Increases Coffee Bean Prices

Economics Earth and Space Science Environment Climate Change Weather and Climate

The drought didn't just close down ski resorts and impact agriculture— it also increased coffee bean prices due to a bean condition called "coffee disease rust." The widespread impact might even have customers at the local coffee chop feeling the price change.

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Nevada farmers hack drought

Current Event March 21, 2014

Nevada Farmers "Hack" Drought

Life Science Environment Weather and Climate

Nevada's farms are few and far between, and the recent drought has not made survival easier. Some farms decided to "hack" the drought by adapting to the region's water shortage by growing better suited crops.

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